Our Butterfly Lesson
The students were given a small potted plant, and stuck on its soil were two sticks with a chrysalis each. The approximate time given was that they will hatch in around one to two weeks. A paper instructed only to watch and not to touch, especially when it was still in the chrysalis stage. Most of the children were familiar with the life cycle of a butterfly since they have worked with those materials that were given by the school before, but this was the first time that they got to witness it happening outside of a drawing.
It was hard to tell who was more excited, the people waiting for them to hatch or the soon-to-be butterfly inside of it. The anticipation to witness and the anxiety of waiting was shuffling with each other, but when it did hatch, and a live butterfly came crawling out and eventually flapped its wings, there was only awe.
The goal was to observe and not to intervene. Were we able to do only that? These butterflies cannot talk but I believe that the bare minimum we could have done for them was to leave them alone.
The feeling of apprehension may have been present during the moment the pupae hatched. There may be the notion of not knowing what to do and how to take care of an unfamiliar living creature for the first time. I think the most important decision there was to make was whether to keep them or to let them go. We all know that these butterflies belong outside, free to fly and search for their food, to survive by their own means, and, presumably, to start another life cycle. But even knowing these, there may have been a thought to do otherwise.
Reasons of the butterfly not being able to fly properly, or having their wings chipped off for some account, or just the idea of keeping them as a pet may have thought to be justified. An injured butterfly may indeed look pitiful and vulnerable when put in the open, easy prey for predators, but let us not forget that this is how nature works and this is how nature survives. And while a beautiful flying butterfly is appealing to look at, may it not be used as an alibi to keep them from doing their purpose.
The life cycle of a butterfly is discussed to include eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult butterfly. But perhaps we can view this in a more general form that applies to all living things: birth, life, and death. It is imperative that, even at a young age, children are aware of these stages, especially the last one. Let us not overlook the fact that we, and they, are in our own cycle, and that it is a reality that we witness all the time. Even at a young age, it must be learned that birth is a beautiful thing, that life is a constant education, and that death is an eventuality that should be prepared for.
As this lesson has already resolved itself, we may want to peek at our own little creature that is our children. The scales of doing too much and doing too little may be arduous to balance, and it may be dreadful to think that there is only so much we can do and so little we can control, but let us not dismiss the fact that they have so much that they can do and so much that they can control. The butterflies exist for only a couple of weeks but it is, for them, enough to live, and, for us, enough to be educated on some things.